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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: April 16, 2001
CONTACT: Craig Cheslog, Redefining Progress
510-444-3041

DRIVING FEES SHOULD BE LINKED TO THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS
CAUSED TO SOCIETY AND THE ENVIRONMENT BY AUTOMOBILE USE

OAKLAND, Calif.—Despite seemingly expensive gas prices, drivers pay less than half of the costs created by the use of their automobiles when the total costs of driving-including increased congestion, space covered by pavement, accidents, and pollution-are considered. A Redefining Progress issue brief released today explains how everyone (non-drivers, taxpayers, and other drivers) pays every time a driver gets behind the wheel.

The issue brief, Beyond Gas Taxes: Linking Driving Fees to Externalities, explores other options that charge drivers for the social costs created by automobile use. While in the past this option has meant higher gas taxes, the paper argues for other pricing options tailored toward preventing specific harms. For example, charging for highway use during rush hour could be used to ease traffic problems, and pay-as-you-drive insurance could reduce automobile crashes.

"A driver pays for gasoline, insurance, and repairs in order to derive the benefits of driving, but not for the traffic and pollution that affect nearby people," writes Redefining Progress Accurate Prices Program Director Mark M. Glickman. "There simply aren't financial incentives for drivers to take these costs into account when they drive, so as a society we all drive more than we would like."

The issue brief also addresses the regressivity of driving fees. While this is a serious concern, doing nothing to improve our transportation problems will also affect low-income households disproportionately. The paper argues that while there is a need to soften the financial impact of any new driving fees on lower-income people, it is also create viable, convenient, and affordable alternatives to owning and using cars.

The issue brief is available for download from the Redefining Progress web site (http://www.rprogress.org).

Redefining Progress is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Oakland, Calif., that develops policies and tools that reorient the economy to value people and nature first. RP does this by developing policies that capture the economy's hidden social and environmental costs, that transform the human use and distribution of the Earth's natural resources, and that restore the value of shared social and natural assets.

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